The most commonly used fishing reel. Spinning Reels are also called ‘Spinners’, ‘Threadlines’ and Eggbeaters because of their design. They are the most popular style of reel because they come in a wide variety of sizes and they are easy to use.
A variation of the Spinning Reel. There are many names for this style of reel including; Baitrunner, Freespooler, Liveliner, Baitfeeder etc. They have two drag systems. Your regular line tension drag for fighting fish, on the front of the reel, and a free spool drag knob on the back of the reel. By flicking the free-spool lever we disengage the front drag and engage the Baitrunner drag. This drag can be adjusted from a light pressure to almost no pressure. This allows fish taking the bait to run with the bait, with minimal resistance on the line. By winding the handle the lever flicks back engaging the fighting drag and hooking the fish. Baitrunner style reels are good for fishing for Bream, Snapper and species that tend to suck baits into the mouth then swim off before they actually bite the bait. You can let the fish run until you are sure they have the bait deep in their mouth, then wind the handle, setting the hook.
Commonly called Alveys as this is the most popular brand. Side Cast refers to the way the side of the reel is turned towards the sea during the casting operation. With the reel in this position, the fishing line is now able to come off the reel without restraint. These reels are popular because they have very few moving parts and therefore are low maintenance. This is great for beach fishing because they can be dropped in the sand, washed in the saltwater and then fished with. They are made in Queensland and have a 5 year warranty.
There are two types of baitcasters, low profile and barrel.
Low Profile Baitcaster
Low Profile baitcasters are designed for accurate casting. They are light and comfortable for casting lures for long periods of time and can be cast one handed. They do not hold a lot of line and are therefore normally used for light to medium freshwater and estuary fishing.
Called barrel baitcasters because of their shape, sometimes referred to as overhead reels in their larger sizes. Generally larger and more robust than a low profile baitcaster, they hold more line and are often used for casting larger lures. Larger size barrel baitcasters are popular for fishing medium to large lures and bait for Barramundi.
There are two main types of overhead reels, star drag and lever drag.
Star Drag Overheads
Star Drag Overhead Reels have a star mechanism on the side near the handle. By turning this star either way we can put more or less ‘drag’ pressure on the line to tire a fish during the fight. These reels are larger and more robust then a barrel baitcaster. They hold large amounts of line which makes them popular for deep sea fishing for larger fish. Once you adjust the star drag it is difficult to know how much drag pressure you have set. Therefore these reels often have their drag pressure set at the start of the day, using a set of spring scales, and are used at that single setting. ‘Set and forget’.
Lever Drag Overheads
Lever Drag Overheads have a lever, instead of a star, to control drag pressure. A lever drag makes it easier to adjust the drag while fighting a fish. There is a setting called the strike drag that can be preset at a certain pressure. This means that whenever the lever is moved to strike the angler knows exactly how much pressure is being applied. This reel is popular among anglers towing / ‘trolling’ lures and live baiting as they can allow the fish to run with the line (similar to a baitrunner) before pushing the lever forward to strike and hooking the fish.
Game reels as the name suggests are for chasing game fish, including Marlin, Tuna and Kingfish. They are the largest, most robust and powerful of the overhead reels and are capable of holding large amounts of heavy line. They feature lever drags and the ability to handle much heavier drag settings and are not designed for casting. They’re a big reel for big fish.
Setting Reel Drag
The drag mechanism on a reel is designed to allow the spool of the reel to turn, letting line out toward the fish, before the weight, or fight of a fish causes the line to break. Using the drag also allows the angler to manage very large fish on comparatively light line as the fish fights against the drag of the reel until it is tired and landed. The best initial setting for drag is to adjust it to one third of the breaking strain of the line in use. This is done by:
- Tying the end of the fishing line to the hook on a set of pocket scales, or a spring balance.
- Have someone hold the scales steady while you walk slowly away from them, pointing the rod tip directly at the scales.
- The measurement obtained is the drag straight off the reel, without any interference from friction over runners, sinker or the water.
- Adjust the drag until the scales read roughly one third of the breaking strain of the line.
Imagine an angler fishing from the rocks. They are casting a lure on a 10 kg spinning outfit, when suddenly a huge 30 kg fish takes the lure. The fish’s immediate reaction is to take-off as fast as it can go. With only 3 kg of drag set on the reel (1/3 of the breaking strain of the line), the best thing to do is to keep the rod tip low and let the line run off the reel. The pressure of the hook in the fish’s mouth, taking into account the friction and water drag, could be as close to 7 kg. The fish will not be able to go too far with the equivalent of 2 house bricks hanging from its jaw. Chances are that the fish will slow down or stop after a run of up to 200 metres. It is important to select a reel that has a suitable line capacity for the type of fishing you choose to do. For example, in this case where you are using a 10kg spin outfit chasing large fish, you would require a reel capable of holding up to 300m of 10kg line.
As soon as the run stops use the rod to put the pressure on. The job now is to turn the fish’s head and begin pumping it in. With the pressure exerted by the rod, the angler will be pulling as much as an extra 3 to 4 kg at the top of each pumping stroke of the rod. The pump stroke is basically that of pulling on the line on the up-stroke, and reeling the line in on the down-stroke. Should the fish suddenly take-off again, the rod tip is lowered again immediately, and the tip pointed straight down at the fish. If kept high, the line could possibly break.
After 25 minutes of hard work, the angler has wound in the fish which is just 30 metres away from the rocks. Now, the fish is just hanging there, deep in the water, using the backwash against its flanks to resist the anglers’ efforts. Every time they pump the rod, line just slips off against the drag and you gain nothing. This is where most anglers make a fatal mistake, by applying more drag to haul in the fish. Instead, the angler uses his hand against the reel to physically add more pressure to the reel on each lifting stroke of the rod. If the fish does really take-off again, the drag settings are still set correctly and all should be well. By altering the angle of the rod and manually overriding the reel, the angler has been able to constantly adjust the pressure on the fish, without fiddling with the drag.
The only exception to the rule is a fish taking a great deal of the line, e.g., more than half of the spool. Due to the basic laws of physics, by the time the reel is half empty of line, the drag has effectively doubled. Therefore, if a big fish runs off more than half the line, it pays to ease-off the drag to compensate, if you are in a boat it’s definitely time to start chasing that fish.
Over time as an angler gains more fishing experience they develop a better understanding of how far they can push their rods, reels and line before they fail. Setting the drag at 1/3 is a good place for anglers to start, especially when using fishing gear that they are unfamiliar with.
Fishing reel maintenance is a very important part of fishing. Without regular maintenance, moving parts of the reel will seize up and sooner or later the bearings (where present) will disintegrate. Ray’s Outdoors stocks reel maintenance lubricants, tools and other products to assist customers with reel maintenance.
Regular Cleaning Maintenance
Here are a few simple tips to extend the life of fishing reels. Most fishing environments, especially salt water, are very hard on the metal components of fishing reels. Given time, saltwater will corrode any metals.
After each fishing trip, anglers should do the following:
- Take the reel off the rod. Reels should not be left attached to rods for long periods. Reels can corrode on to the rod over time.
- Tighten the drag. Lightly rinse reels with fresh water. Ensure the drag is on the reel is tightened first to prevent water from getting into the drag mechanism.
- Don’t fully submerge the reel in water, or heavily spray the reel. This can force small particles into the reel workings.
- Use warm soapy water and a rag to wipe the reel dry. This will get the rest of the salt and other soiling, including bait, off of the reel.
- Spray the reel with Tackle Guard or a similar moisture repellent product. This will force out any water and dirt that may have gotten into the reel. More specifically, spray the handle, the drag knob or lever, the free-spool button, bail arm and any other moving parts on the reel.
- If the reel seat on the rod is metal, also spray that with moisture repellent.
- After spraying, work any moveable parts to help get the moisture repellent in and around them. Where possible try not to get moisture repellent on the fishing line. However do not be too concerned as most modern sprays, designed for reel maintenance, will not put the fish off the bite or damage the line.
- Let the reel sit for an hour or so with the spray still on.
- Wipe off the excess moisture repellent with a dry cloth.
- For lever drag and star drag reels – leave the drag in free-spool and turn the line alarm on to provide some tension on the spool.
- Loosen the drag. For front and rear drag spinning reels back the drag right off. The idea is to not leave the drag compressed in one position for too long. This can permanently compress drag washers and wear out the springs etc inside the reel.
- Store the reel in a cool dry space. Do not leave in direct sunlight as the UV light can make the line perish.
- After extended heavy use or every year or so have your reels serviced by a qualified service agent.